MUSIC SCHOOL IS A VIABLE ALTERNATIVE
Scottish Ministers have dismissed the planning appeals by Duddingston House Properties and Urbanist Hotels against City of Edinburgh Council’s denial of planning permission for proposals to turn the old Royal High School into a luxury hotel (PPA-230-2213).
You can read the reasons for their decision in full here. Below, we summarise.
Ministers agreed with the Reporters that the main issues in the case were as follows.
Impacts of the proposals on the listed building, the conservation area, the World Heritage Site and on other heritage assets / Townscape and visual impacts
They found the developers’ approach would be positive for the fabric of the listed building, and it inclined them to approve it.
They considered the views of the southern elevation, from straight ahead and to the side, would be severely compromised by the large-scale wings.
The setting of the building would be spoiled by the ‘overwhelming scale’ of the ‘overbearing, urbanising’, ‘out of context’ and distracting extensions.
On balance, Ministers found that the Royal High School Preservation Trust's scheme for a music school represents a viable alternative option which would, if implemented, ensure a continuing beneficial use for the building with less impact (than that of the Proposed Development) on its special interest.
Ministers agreed with Reporters that the proposal would have adverse impacts on: the listed building and its setting; the character and setting of the New Town Conservation Area; the qualities of the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh World Heritage Site; the Calton Hill Special Landscape Area; the character and attractiveness of the city centre; the New Town Gardens Inventory Garden and Designed Landscape; the skyline and key views of the city centre; and the character and appearance of the area.
Impact on residential amenity
They thought the degree of change was acceptable.
Impacts on tourism and the economy
They thought that it would be economically significant on a regional level but probably not at national level. However, it was likely to be nationally significant for tourism.
Whether any other material considerations point towards approval or refusal of planning permission
Ministers found that any economic benefits would be outweighed by over-development. This proposal ‘is not “the right development in the right place”’.
Ministers’ decision is final, unless the developers successfully contest it on a point of law in the Court of Session within six weeks.
Listed building consent for the alternative music school has now lapsed, but is likely to be granted if a similar application is made.
[NB: In final sentence, Editor replaced <Planning permission> with <Listed building consent> at 3.11pm on 27 October.]